Inspiration for a Dragon Miniature?

I’ve certainly been doing more reading (and some RPG writing) recently instead of painting. Most recently I’ve completed an autobiography by Tony Rivers (an English 60’s singer who went on to do backing vocals and arrangements for heaps of popular groups and singers through the 70’s & 80’s), an autobiography by John Cleese (you should know who he is), and a political thriller co-authored by Hilary Clinton.

I’m now planning to catch up on some books I purchased just before we moved that filled in gaps in a number of series I’d collected. I’ve started with the Winterlands series by Barbara Hambly. I’ve only previously read the first book, and had waited decades before getting copies of book 2 & 4. Tonight (halfway through book one) I suddenly had a suspicious idea concerning the book cover, that has never before occurred to me in the last 30 years or so… relating to a miniature I own.

The book is “Dragonsbane” published in 1986 by Del Rey. The cover image was done by Michael Whelan. Here’s a clipped image of the original from which the cover is taken.

Then here’s the unpainted “Black Dragon II” released by Grenadier in 1988, as part of their Dragon Lords series. Their relationship with TSR had finished in 1982 but this series depicted the AD&D dragons with slight differences. Sculpted by William Watt.

I painted this figure when I first got back into painting miniatures. The timing is fine for the book cover to have inspired the miniature, whether directly or unconsciously. Note the raised forearm, and the shape of the neck. The body scales are very small like on the book image, unlike the other dragons in this series that I have. The rest of the sculpt, like the tail, rear legs and wings don’t match the same pose. I’m ignoring the three-clawed hands as all the other dragons Watt did are the same.

I can’t find anything on the sculptor, and geographically, Hambly/Whelan and Grenadier were on opposite sides of the USA. Maybe there is no connection and this is coincidence!

Trivia: The AD&D Black Dragon has forward pointing horns, unlike the images of the assembled figure, and larger plate-like scales.


4 thoughts on “Inspiration for a Dragon Miniature?

  1. Were they always on opposite sides of the country? And it’s entirely possible the concept art they both cane from is the same. There honestly weren’t that many fantasy artists at the time, and many were freelancers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • After a bit more digging… Both Hambly and Whelan grew up in California. I note that Whelan later moved to New York (1970’s). Grenadier was in Pennsylvania… so there could be a link with Whelan. With Art shows on the East coast, and winning Hugo awards, he was certainly becoming well known in the 80’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually I thought it was a Copper Dragon that got mislabeled at first! The face looked pretty smooth, until I zoomed in. The horns are back and not like the forward facing bull horns of a black dragon. I don’t remember the scale pattern of the black dragon, but this looks like it’s probably close. Definitely not the Copper Dragon though, like I first thought! A great looking dragon mini though, and one of the better looking Grenadier ones. I might have to try to get one myself!

    Liked by 1 person

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